Missing another lost winterSAM COOK: The average daily high in Des Moines is about 30 in January, with lows in the teens. Need a good rain in January? Des Moines is your place. And now Duluth.
By: Sam Cook, Duluth News Tribune
Let’s face it. We’re becoming Des Moines.
I looked it up. Take the daily high and low temperatures we’ve had lately and see for yourself.
The average daily high in Des Moines is about 30 in January, with lows in the teens. Need a good rain in January? Des Moines is your place. And now Duluth.
“I miss winter,” a friend of mine said the other day.
He said it as if he were talking about a good friend who had moved away, or a longtime companion who had died.
It’s ironic, isn’t it? We used to complain about shoveling snow, about getting our cars buried in snowbanks, about the way 20 or 30 below sapped the heat right out of our choppers. Not anymore.
Snowmobilers are going stir-crazy. Cross-country skiers are just barely managing, but how will they wax for freezing rain? Snowshoes? Gathering dust where they’ve hung on their pegs for at least two years.
The Department of Natural Resources issued a news release Wednesday warning people about thin ice. In early January. In Minnesota.
Who are we, really, without winter?
I was cross-country skiing at Snowflake Nordic the other day when I heard a long, loud shrieking. I wondered for a second if someone had been hurt, but, no, it was an 8-year-old, obviously new to skiing, flying down a hill, squealing with joy.
Where will he get that kind of kick in Des Moines?
I’m sure Des Moines is a fine place. Lots of good people there in America’s Heartland. I’ve driven through Des Moines many times. There’s a nice little Wendy’s just off I-80 at Merle Hay Road.
I did some research on Des Moines just so I could see where we’re headed. I wanted to know what sort of things Des Moinians embrace.
Well, for starters, it’s the home of the National Pork Board. And, right next door, in the suburb of Clive, you’ve got your Iowa Pork Producers Association. Good swine country, Des Moines.
And let’s not overlook the Iowa Primate Learning Sanctuary, a 230-acre campus “housing bonobos and orangutans for the non-invasive interdisciplinary study of their cognitive and communication capabilities,” Wikipedia says.
No offense, but I don’t think I want to become Des Moines.
I want to study my cognitive and communication capabilities in an ice-fishing shack. I want to lay down a set of snowshoe tracks somewhere in the border-country wilderness, headed for a canvas tent and a woodstove tucked in a bay.
I want to step out of a sauna on a January night and let the steam from my sweaty frame rise to mingle with Orion. I want to smell woodsmoke twisting out of a Gunflint Trail cabin chimney on a February night so cold the trees are popping. I want to walk my dog on a January evening listening to the solid whack of a hockey stick slapping a puck at an outdoor rink.
And, yes, I’ll happily do my time with a snow shovel if it means some child of the north can discover the delight of a fast descent on a pair of skinny skis, zinging across the barcode shadows of birch trees.
I’m with my buddy.
I miss winter.
Sam Cook is Duluth News Tribune columnist and outdoors writer. Reach him at (218) 723-5332 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @samcookoutdoors.